Sparkyard, a company with a name inspired by the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, plans to put its home city on the map both nationally and globally as a creative hub for businesses to thrive. The new, cost-free platform provides entrepreneurs easy access to appropriate information and services through partnerships with area resource providers.
Cameron Cushman, Sparkyard’s founder and the director of Innovation Ecosystems at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, realized that Fort Worth lacked a legitimate source of information on how to build a business. So, he teamed up with the City of Fort Worth, the UNT Health Science Center, and Texas Christian University’s Neely School of Business as founding partners to provide resources for local startups.
“We want a free resource for entrepreneurs, we don’t want to charge anybody for it. It needs to be completely accessible and inclusive and all those good things,” Marco Johnson, Sparkyard’s network builder (a position funded by the UNTHSC), told Dallas Innovates.
Sparkyard is essentially a roadmap of business connection and collision. No matter if a business owner needs to start or grow, the platform intends to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” that has the right tools for anyone. The company mission is to hone that community in the Fort Worth area, eventually making it a destination to launch and scale a company.
“We pursue this mission to fulfill our vision for Fort Worth to become a nationally recognized place to start or scale companies,” Johnson writes in a blog post. “Heck, eventually we want to be a GLOBALLY recognized destination for entrepreneurship.”
In partnering with local resource providers, Sparkyard hopes to raise awareness and increase its budding network. In doing so, it will also be able to identify any potential gaps in the startup space.
The Sparkyard website features several how-to resource guides relevant to both business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as a “one-stop-shop” community calendar featuring upcoming events.
Sparkyard’s resource navigator provides a comprehensive list of resources that offer no-cost assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners, and its staff also offers individualized lists based on a person’s specific needs and aspirations through a personalized action builder.
The company is currently finalizing its signature resource map, a subway map-inspired series of lines that mirrors the journey of a business from its inception to launch.
“As you progress down the track to the different business stages, we have a listing of different resources that are available at each stop,” Johnson says.
Sparkyard will be at more than 50 events during Fort Worth Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international celebration of the innovators and entrepreneurs who create startups and bring new ideas to life, to assist businesses with branding, marketing, and networking. The event will be held Nov. 14-22.
“There will be panel sessions, networking events, pitch competitions, solo presentations, all kinds of different formats are being planned [for GEW],” Cushman says.
Alex Edwards and Lauren Hawkins contributed to this report.
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